It appears that traffic on the Internet is, indeed, growing at a rapid pace.

Annual global IP traffic should reach 1.3 zettabytes by 2016, according to Cisco. That would be more or less on schedule. If there’s a new nugget in Cisco’s annual network updates, it’s that more than half of that traffic in 2016 is likely to originate on Wi-Fi networks.

A separate traffic report from Informa Telecoms & Media predicts that in 2016, mobile phone users will consume (on average) 6.5 times as much video, eight times as much music and nearly 10 times as much games as in 2011. The bad news is that Informa expects the increase in data traffic will far outstrip revenue growth.

(Ericsson will be releasing its traffic report shortly.)

Cisco released the results of its annual Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast. The company projects that in 2016, there will be nearly 18.9 billion network connections, compared with 10.3 billion in 2011. That includes machine-to-machine (M2M) connections; the number of individual Internet users in 2016 is expected to be “only” about 3.4 billion, or about 45 percent of the world population.

Cisco's Visual Networking Index (VNI)
Leaping increases in the amounts of video consumed continue to be the drivers for network traffic. Globally, there are expected to be 1.5 billion Internet video users by 2016, up from 792 million Internet video users in 2011.

The average fixed broadband speed is expected to increase from 9 Mbps in 2011 to 34 Mbps in 2016.

Globally, the index suggests there will be 8 billion IPv6-capable fixed and mobile devices in 2016, up from 1 billion in 2011; and globally, 40 percent of all fixed and mobile networked devices will be IPv6-capable in 2016, up from 10 percent in 2011.

Global mobile Internet data traffic is forecast to increase 18 times from 2011 to 2016, to 10.8 exabytes per month (or 130 exabytes annually).

Meanwhile, in its “Mobile Content and Applications Forecasts Report,” Informa Telecoms & Media forecast global mobile data traffic to grow from 3.9 exabytes in 2011 to 39.7 exabytes in 2016.

The company expects global mobile data revenues to grow only from $325.8 billion in 2011 to $627.5 billion in 2016.

In 2016, the average mobile user will be browsing six times as many Web pages and downloading 14 times as many megabytes of applications on their handset as in 2011.

“The top three data guzzlers on mobile phones over the next five years will be applications, video streaming and Web browsing – in that order of importance,” said Guillermo Escofet, senior analyst at Informa. “Yet, the top revenue earners in 2016 will be Web browsing first, followed by P2P SMS and applications. Video streaming will represent less than 1 percent of mobile data revenue in 2016, despite hogging a third of handset traffic.”